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Per Day Rate or Per Photo/Product Rate?

Following the previous article on "What is your rate?" - Pricing Q&A which brief on the thought process of before providing a rate. In this article we will go a little more in-depth into explaining the factors that decides between per day rate or per photo/product rate.


I am pretty sure those who have approach a photographer previously will somewhat have an experience of how the quotation process works. Simply said, it is a tedious process of being bombarded with tons of questions and then more questions following the questions. So how do we decide between per day rate or per photo/product rate? Let me put this into 2 simple scenario for easier understanding.


Per Photo/Product Rate

This is the rate we will use for simpler shoots where we can build a lighting setup that works for the type of product and just churn through all the items without much lighting or setup change. This type of shoots often applies in catalog, thumbnail and e-commerce type of shoot. Reason being, we do not wish to be penalised for being efficient as compared to another photographer who might be less proficient benefiting from day rates as they might take twice as long to get through the same amount of shots. In this case client will also be happy knowing we do not overcharge them for something they don’t need.


Per Day/Half Day Rate

Usually this is the rate we use for hero or advertising type of shoots. This type of shoots often requires a lot more time for the set, props, lighting and camera manipulation. It will usually take longer than we initially anticipated and time shouldn’t be a barrier towards the creative thinking. We tend to go towards day rate for a more complicated shots simply because we do not wish to rush into getting the shots done when we are in the creative process of problem solving, thinking that those extra hours spend on perfecting the craft are not being compensated if we are charging by per photo/product. It is only fair that we are being compensated for our teams talent, effort and time and not being resentful of the project as resentment often show up in the work.


For example;

Per Photo/Product Rate

Client A approach us to photograph 30 pieces of product that is almost similar in shape, size and finishes on a fixed colour background for their web catalog usage. We know for a fact that shoots like this emphasise on consistency and accurately portraying their products. Therefore we could get a few sample products, build a set and shoot all those products in the similar setting. We could charge them 100 bucks per product which will end up with 3000 bucks for this project. If client has any additional products to shoot, then the billing will go up by the amount of additional products instead of being bombarded with a huge sum of day rate. We could even adjust the rate lower if there’s a huge amount of product regardless of time. Simple rule of economy, the “economies of scale”. The higher the amount of product, the lower the cost as the setup is already there, we do not need as much effort to shoot compared to starting from scratch. The benefit of this pricing model is that the price is fixed towards the amount of product regardless of the time that a photographer is going to use. A huge ease of mind for client when facing a less proficient photographer.


Per Day/Half Day Rate

Client B approach us to shoot their new 5 course fine dining menu for an upcoming dining concept advertising usage. They request 1 image for each meal course to be shot in different setting inside the restaurant environment. Sounds easy but it’s going to be pain in the ass. As the lighting setup for each meal course is going to be different. The food, styling, settings and approach will also be different. We might even need a food stylist, props stylist and assistant to be on board for the shoot. In this case, it’s better off for us to go with the day rate because this will probably going to take more time than the 30 pieces product shoot in our first example. To add complexity into things, we might also need a retoucher to retouch those image or even source for props or even rent specialized equipment just to get the job done. The type of usage licensing will also affect the final quotation. As this will likely be a very long day, we might also need a budget for catering to keep everyone filled on set. All these cost are likely to go under the line item along side with our day rate.


While both these example are on the extreme side of difference in terms of complexity and the pricing should be as well. Hopefully these examples will help you in understanding how these rates are obtained. This will ease your budget planning process and know what to ask for from your next photographer to tailor the quotation according to your needs. This will bring us into our next upcoming article addressing the importance of knowing your needs in photography which will usually be one of the major deciding factor of how big your budget should be and also should photography really be an afterthought.


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